Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Music Education and Music Therapy (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Stephen F. Zdzinski

Second Committee Member

Don D. Coffman

Third Committee Member

Brian Powell


The purpose of this study was to examine children’s mental images of music and musical engagements through free responses to linguistic stimuli. Participants were primary students aged 8 to 11 (N = 132) enrolled in Miami-Dade public schools. For identifying context-related differences, schools were chosen by using purposive sampling based on previous demographic information. Free responses to linguistic stimuli (music, music and me, music at school, and music outside school) and participants’ demographic and socio-cultural data were processed by the software SPAD. Correspondences Analysis was used to reconstruct representational fields associated to the stimuli. For each stimulus, a three-factor extraction identified hidden dimensions in children’s linguistic responses and summarized the links between contextual variables and children’s representations. Insights into children’s conceptualizations of music and musical engagements helped construct a narrative of their musical worlds in terms of definitions of music, practices, meanings and evaluations of musical experiences. Beyond highlighting dimensions in children’s representations of music and musical engagements, Correspondences Analysis demonstrated that children’s musical thinking was affected by complex interactions between demographic and socio-cultural variables. Age, ethnicity and school significantly differentiated children’s social representations in terms of musical preferences, evaluations, definitions, and experiences. Gender-related differences were marginally found for the stimulus music and me. Parents' musical involvement influenced children’s responses in correspondence of the category high. Finally, no significant differences were found in relation to SES (parents' educational level and employment status). Major findings suggested that (a) children at increasingly younger ages express preferences and construct their own representations of music and musical selves, and (b) although ethnicity differentiates children’s musical thinking, some musics have created identifiable groups across ethnic boundaries.


Social Representations, Music education, Children and Music, Social Representations of Music, Theory of Social Representations, Correspondences Analysis